The West Gate Tunnel Project will be built over five years, opening in 2022 to provide a vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge, quicker and safer journeys and remove over 9000 trucks from residential streets in the inner west.
In the Tunnels precinct we are building:
- Twin tunnels under Yarraville between the West Gate Freeway and the Maribyrnong River
- Entry and exit portals where the tunnels connect with surface roads
- Ventilation structures at each tunnel exit to remove air from inside the tunnels
- Walking and cycling paths on Hyde Street, Harris Street, Maribyrnong Street and a bridge over Whitehall Street
- New landscaped open space in Altona North and Footscray
- Freeway Management System to support good traffic flow and safety
- Tunnel safety features for smooth operation of the tunnel, including automatic detection for over-height trucks, fire systems and emergency access and exits.
A tunnel allows a freeway connection to be built in established residential and commercial areas with far fewer impacts and many benefits including:
- moving through traffic away from homes
- reducing traffic noise on local streets
- reducing trucks on local streets
- reducing disruption during construction as much of the work happens below ground
- supporting urban redevelopment opportunities by protecting land on the surface.
Setting up construction compounds
Timing: Set up 2018-2019 and operating until 2022
Construction compounds provide a base for workers, equipment and machinery. The main base for tunnel construction is at the northern portal on Whitehall Street, Yarraville. The Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) will be launched here and a spoil management facility set up to deal with earth and water generated by tunnelling. To minimise disruption we are:
- Fitting noise covers to noisy machinery and equipment
- Using covered conveyors, sheds and trucks to reduce dust
- Fencing and screening the site for safety
- Reducing traffic in and out at peak times to limit traffic disruption.
We will use best practice techniques at our construction compounds and will:
- Meet all requirements for managing noise, dust and traffic
- Give our neighbours advanced notice about what to expect during works
- Reinstate or improve compound areas after construction
- Provide parking for workers.
North Yarra Main Sewer works
The North Yarra Main Sewer is a very old and large brick sewerage pipeline that runs under Whitehall Street. Before work on the tunnel can begin, the section between Youell Street and Somerville Road needs to be diverted. This is a big job and will take around one year to complete. Disruption to traffic on Whitehall Street is expected for several months while this work is completed
Building the tunnel portals
The start and end of each tunnel will be built using the ‘cut and cover’ method. This involves excavating a trench then covering it with a concrete deck to form a roof. This is where the TBMs start and end their journey.
Two state-of-the-art Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) will build the twin tunnels. These machines use the latest tunnelling technology and are custom designed and built to suit ground conditions in Melbourne’s west.
The TBMs start their journey at the northern portal and move south-west towards the southern portals in the West Gate Freeway. Work will start on the 4 kilometre outbound tunnel first, closely followed by the 2.8 kilometre inbound tunnel. The longer tunnel will take around 18 months to bore.
While the TBM bores through the earth, a mobile factory behind it installs a concrete lining – forming the walls, roof and base of the tunnel. Behind the TBM, crews of up to 20 people work to build the road surface and install electrics, ventilation and safety systems.
Tunnelling operations will take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The TBMs will work around the clock, and the main tunnelling construction compound at Whitehall Street will be busy both day and night.
In early 2018, work will begin to prepare for construction including relocating services such as the North Yarra Main Sewer and setting up construction compounds.
Regular updates will be posted on this page. We will also keep people informed of activities taking place in their local area by:
- Dropping newsletters and works notifications in your letterbox
- Door knocks or street meetings before major works
- News and updates on social media
For more information, contact us on 1300 280 939
We have a team that is dedicated to working with the community. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer any questions or concerns.
Download the factsheet Construction overview – Tunnels [PDF, 1.4mb]